Early in my sales career I was taught that objections are opportunities to close. I quickly learned that objections instead highlight misunderstanding, create resistance, and damage trust which reduces the likelihood of making the sale. In modern enterprise solution selling, an objection can be evidence of a sales person's mistake.
Objections are caused by attempting to close the sale prematurely or by positioning features that are not linked to genuine business value. Positioning features and benefits without aligning them to specific acknowledged business needs can create price concerns or the perception that what you offer is over-engineered.
All professional sales people should however seek to create progression in every interaction. In this sense, the concept of 'closing' occurs right from initial contact. Closing is not an event at the end of the sales-cycle; it's the process of negotiating mutual commitments at every stage of the customer's evaluation and buying process. Success is achieved through developing real trust, understanding, and then the buyer's attraction to genuine value. 'Closing' is therefore best defined as 'confirming'. The best professional sales people are not interested in pushing or applying pressure, because it creates distrust and unproductive resistance. Instead they concentrate on how they can offer the highest value and lowest risk, and they focus on securing agreement concerning the next steps in making a decision and then finalizing the commercial arrangements.
Professional selling can be defined as the process of helping someone make a buying decision that is in the customer's best interests. This paradigm of selling demands cooperation, understanding, trust, and alignment with the buyer's needs and processes. In this environment, the old-school concept of 'closing' is redundant. Instead of defining the 'ABC of selling' as 'Always Be Closing', think instead: always be consultative; always be confirming; always be committed to understanding before seeking progression.
Concluding business should be a natural next step rather than a point of risk for the sales person or unwanted pressure for the buyer. Focus on understanding their requirements and processes and then the next logical step to help the customer achieve their desired outcomes.
Tony Hughes is ranked as the #1 influencer on professional selling in Asia-Pacific and is a keynote speaker and best selling author. This article was originally published in LinkedIn where you can also follow Tony's award winning blog. Also visit Tony's keynote speaker website at www.TonyHughes.com.au or his sales methodology website at http://www.rsvpselling.com/.
Main image photo by Flickr: Eldar_
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